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Extended Audio Sample When It Happens to You: A Novel in Stories Audiobook, by Molly Ringwald Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (1,963 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Molly Ringwald Narrator: Molly Ringwald Publisher: HarperCollins Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: August 2012 ISBN: 9780062239952
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When it happens to you, you will be surprised. That thing they say about how you knew all the time, but just weren't facing it? That might be the case, but nevertheless, there you will be.

Molly Ringwald mines the complexities of modern relationships in this gripping and nuanced collection of interlinked stories. Writing with a deep compassion for human imperfection, Ringwald follows a Los Angeles family and their friends and neighbors while they negotiate the hazardous terrain of everyday life—revealing the deceptions, heartbreak, and vulnerability familiar to us all.

In "The Harvest Moon," a stay-at-home mom grapples with age, infertility, and an increasingly distant husband. In "Ursa Minor," a former children's television star tries to rebuild his life after being hospitalized for "exhaustion." An elderly woman mourns the loss of her husband and her estranged relationship with her daughter in "The Little One." In "My Olivia," a single mother finds untapped reserves of strength to protect her flamboyant six-year-old son who wishes only to wear dresses and be addressed as Olivia. And in the devastating title story, a betrayed wife chronicles her pain and alienation, leading to an eviscerating denouement.

As the lives of these characters converge and diverge in unexpected ways, Ringwald reveals a startling eye for the universality of loss, love, and the search for connection. An unflinching yet poignant examination of the intricacies of the human heart, When It Happens to You is an auspicious literary debut.

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Quotes & Awards

  • When It Happens to You is absolutely lovely, a smart, emotionally sophisticated, intricately dovetailed novel of stories. World, I’m telling you now: Molly Ringwald is the real deal.”

    Lauren Groff, New York Times bestselling author of Arcadia

  • “Molly Ringwald understands how families work and uses her considerable talents to make them come alive on the page.”

    Gary Shteyngart, New York Times bestselling author of Super Sad True Love Story

  • When It Happens to You is an inventive and compelling portrait of love in the modern age.”

    J. Courtney Sullivan, New York Times bestselling author of Maine 

  • “Molly Ringwald’s eight electric stories are alive with Joycean insight-piercing, epiphanic moments of terror, humor, and transcendence. Together they offer a deeply moving portrait of modern life.”

    Eleanor Henderson, New York Times bestselling author of Ten Thousand Saints

  • “This queen of 1980s teenage angst…puts betrayal center stage. And she does it in a way that’s as visceral as a girl’s disgust when everyone forgets her sixteenth birthday…A large part of what makes this novel-in-stories so enjoyable is its structure, the way the connections between characters unfold from piece to piece. Each story could stand on its own, but they fit together to reveal links among these family members, neighbors, and friends in Los Angeles…Ringwald weaves an emotional narrative that avoids getting bogged down in melodrama. With an economy of language, she keeps the story moving, taking readers inside characters’ heads without leaving them there too long. Ringwald’s storytelling succeeds as much on the page as her acting has done on screen.”

    Washington Post

  • “Any lingering Brat Pack associations you may bring to When It Happens to You, Molly Ringwald’s first novel, will rapidly evaporate. Ringwald renders the families and lovers in her intertwined stories with a compassionate eye for the kind of heartbreak that upends reality, as well as a keen sense of the more subtle ways in which trust breaks and mends. Each of her eight stories explores the dynamics of fidelity and betrayal.”

    Amazon.com, editorial review

  • “[A] graceful and deft debut.”


  • “Ringwald deftly weaves together the threads of these stories, creating a tapestry that captures the emotional landscape of both young and well-worn relationships…This is a beautiful exploration of how the heart’s irrational responses to love and betrayal can stand in the way of forgiveness.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • “These stories sizzle with rare insight about the reverberations of betrayal and of love. Ringwald wisely never judges her characters, but lets them live out their complexities on the page, flawed and endearing, recognizable and also new. When It Happens to You is an impressive fiction debut.”

    Robin Black, author of If I Loved You, I Would Tell You This

  • An Amazon Best Book of the Month, August 2012
  • A Kirkus Reviews Top 25 Book, August 2012
  • An Amazon Top 100 Book of 2012
  • A 2013 Audie Award Finalist for Best Narration by an Author
  • A 2013 Audie® Award Finalist for Short Stories/Collections

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kj | 2/9/2014

    " Thoroughly enjoyed this quick read. 80's nostalgia pushed me towards picking it up and I was delightfully Impressed with the quality of the writing. I actually gasped when I realized the book was over! I could have continued on reading about the intermingling lives of all of the characters. In fact, my only real criticism here is that I was left wanting to know more. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mary Lou | 1/30/2014

    " by Molly Ringwald is a collection of stories about people whose lives are connected to two main characters. Set in contemporary times, the setting and characters seem very authentic, the latter developed enough to seem real. The issues include infidelity, parenting, trying to get pregnant, sexual orientation, grief, and aging. I was totally engrossed and will definitely read more by Ringwald. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Amanda | 1/27/2014

    " Interesting read, but I adore Molly. I have an autographed copy! :) "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Amy Marbach | 1/25/2014

    " While I actually like the format of this book- I kept reading it hoping that the interconnected storylines would evolve just a little bit more. Still the stories read more like chapters in a dysfunctional and disjointed novel than separate stories. I also have some issues with the likability of some of the characters especially Greta. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Michele Burkholder | 1/23/2014

    " I thought that this was Molly Ringwald's autobiography, and was surprised to find that it was not once I started reading it, but it sucked me in from the start. I liked how she developed the characters and overlapped their lives, but the ending was a complete disappointment. It was like she got tired of writing the book, so she decided to stop. Abruptly. It wasn't a suspenseful ending. It was a thoughtless one that, to a certain extent, ruined the book for me. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kris | 1/18/2014

    " Yes, I read this because of the author but also I really like books of inter-linked short stories. And it did not disappoint. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Peebee | 1/16/2014

    " I was prepared for this book to not be as good as I had hoped for...I was not a huge fan of Molly's first book (nonfiction)Getting the Pretty Back: Friendship, Family, and Finding the Perfect Lipstick, which was a bit boring and frivolous. And I wasn't sure if I would like the interconnected short stories device. But I really liked it: I thought the characters were well-developed, the emotions keenly honed, and the device worked pretty well -- it actually felt more like chapters of a book with the different perspectives represented by different narrators (which is a pretty common device). Now that John Hughes is dead and Molly is playing mother characters instead of awkward teenagers, I hope she keeps writing more fiction. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Apallant | 1/15/2014

    " Molly Ringwald really can write. Each short story is connected by characters in the story and it is fun to unpack all the relationships. It is a story of the break-up of a marriage, which is sad, but it does seem to get you fully engaged with the characters. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Amber | 1/1/2014

    " A very fast but entertaining read! The writing is engaging and I loved how these short stories connect in unexpected ways and surprise you. I found myself not really liking any of the characters but being intrigued by them anyway. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Marie Mazza | 1/1/2014

    " I liked this book because it was a different concept "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Vanessa Sellers | 12/31/2013

    " I really enjoyed this book. It was so much better than i thought it would be.. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Noel | 12/18/2013

    " Interesting interconnected stories. One of the best descriptions of love I have read. Unfortunately, has obligatory gay sections. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Christina | 12/15/2013

    " This book is not a great work of literature, but it is quite decently written and a quick read. It's entertaining in a melancholy sort of way. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mary | 12/6/2013

    " I really enjoyed this book of short stories. I loved how they just would flow into the next story and be so separate that you lost your train of thought. Very emotional and very well written. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sarah | 11/25/2013

    " This was a pleasant surprise. I went in with rather low expectations, but apparently shouldn't have doubted Molly Ringwald. It did take me a bit to be able to read it without hearing her voice narrating in my head. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Annie | 10/8/2013

    " 3 1/2 stars. A very clever book of short stories that are wonderfully connected. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Christie | 9/15/2013

    " A smart set of characters quietly threaded together and woven into a fabric that is familiar to us all. Highly recommended! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Nanette Johansen | 8/8/2013

    " Who knew the actress from Sixteen Candles could write? This was a really fun read as all the short stories intertwined. Loved it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 May | 7/13/2013

    " First Sentence: "As far as Greta knew, there was nothing in the sky that night." "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Patty | 6/17/2013

    " Ringwald has a terrific narrative voice. Her characters are rich & her perspectives impressive. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Debbie Foster | 3/29/2013

    " I agree with my friend Dana's review...fun but missing a little something.. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Melissa | 3/25/2013

    " This book was surprisingly good. I'm not a particular fan of short stories and was definitely skeptical of Molly Ringwald. However, the stories are related to each other and it turns out she is a pretty decent writer. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Linda | 3/16/2013

    " Ringwald employs a unique approach by making this a novel of inter-related short stories about love, infidelity, relationships that define who we are and what we become. Her characters are all so real and the varying perspectives give everyone a chance to find a bit of the what makes us all human. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jann | 11/23/2012

    " A big surprise that this was a great story and well-written too. I enjoyed how each chapter was intertwined somehow to the main story. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Angela | 11/11/2012

    " I found this didn't hold my interest as I'd hoped. The writing is somewhat basic, and at times id disconnected. It is worth a try though. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jennifer Robin | 8/29/2012

    " Gosh darn it, "Claire" can actually write. In these interconnected stories, Ringwald details the lives of people in moments of conflict in their lives. Her portrayal of a woman scorned seems painfully accurate. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Christine | 8/24/2012

    " A series of interconnected short stories beginning and ending with the effects of infidelity. It took me a while to get hooked, and I thought the writing was uneven, but I enjoyed the latter half of the book quite a bit. "

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About the Author
Author Molly Ringwald

Molly Ringwald's work in film is characterized by what the renowned New Yorker film critic Pauline Kael called her "charismatic normality." Throughout her extensive career, she has worked with such directors as Paul Mazursky, John Hughes, Cindy Sherman, and Jean-Luc Godard. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, Parade, Esquire, and the Hartford Courant. She lives with her husband and three children in Los Angeles.